Author Topic: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build  (Read 30680 times)

Ari Altman

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The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« on: March 04, 2014, 01:35:11 PM »
Here's the thread to discuss the "$750 Budget Gaming PC Build" on The Tech Buyer's Guru.

Feel free to start your own threads to discuss your personal builds in this category!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 02:16:23 PM by Ari Altman »

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2014, 08:42:45 AM »
We recently received the following inquiry from one of our readers, and thought we'd post our reply in this build thread:

> Hi, I recently did the $750 build and was reading about overclocking.
>  Would it be a good idea/beneficial to this build? If so, how would I go
> about doing that? Thanks in advance.

Here's our take:

If you used the recommended Intel Core i5-4570 processor, you won't be able to overclock, but the processor is more than fast enough anyway.

If you used the AMD FX-8320 processor, you do have the option of overclocking. Unless you've equipped the system with a video card faster than the GTX 660, though, the extra speed really isn't necessary for games. There are plenty of guides available on the Internet to help you with that process if you're interested in trying it out.

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 09:17:48 PM »
We received an e-mail from a reader who built up the Budget Gamer and ran into some problems playing games. Luckily, with a little troubleshooting, we figured out the problem and got his system up and running. Here's the e-mail exchange to show you the steps taken to identify the source of the problem:

Reader e-mail:
"I bought the GTX 660 from Amazon Warehouse and the suggested motherboard.
 When playing games like Starcraft 2 and I use my graphics card HDMI port
all these black and white dots appear on screen and a bunch of random
flickering happens over the Starcraft load screen, once I exit out
everything is back to normal, but when I use the motherboards VGA port and
play it works fine.  If the problem is my graphics card and I end up
returning it is there a better card to get for a little more? Thanks!"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TBG Response:
"This could be a lot of things:
(1) a driver problem
(2) a bad video card
(3) a bad HDMI cable
(4) an issue with Starcraft

Do you have a DVI cable to use to connect the GTX 660 to the monitor? And
have you tried the HDMI cable with your motherboard, just to see if the
cable is good? I'd try those two steps to make sure it's not a cable
issue.

Of course, also update your Nvidia GeForce drivers to the latest version.
Finally, try a game other than Starcraft to see if you have the same
problem.

If none of this suggestions works, you may have a defective card (perhaps
it was refurbished if it was in the Warehouse section)."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reader's response:


"In Skyrim the game set my graphics at ultra high automatically and runs for
about 30 seconds before white dots appear and the screen goes black then
returns to my desktop.  Only says "driver failed but has recovered" when
playing Skyrim."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TBG response:
"Given that you were able to take screenshots of the problem, it cannot be
a cable or monitor issue. Cable and monitor errors do not show up in
screenshots, as they occur after image processing is complete.

Also, given that both Skyrim and Starcraft have issues, it is a general
problem, not limited to one game.

If you continue having the problem after downloading the driver from
Nvidia, I believe you can conclude that you have a defective card, very
likely the memory is corrupted, based on the type of artifacts in the
screenshots."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the end, the reader found that a driver update did not solve the problem. At our suggestion, he purchased an EVGA GTX 760, and his games ran perfectly. Unfortunately, components sometimes do arrive DOA, but by approaching any issue step-by-step, it's usually possible to identify the source of the problem without having to buy all new components.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2014, 08:04:53 AM by Ari Altman »

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2014, 10:24:53 PM »
Another question came in from a reader:

"Would an SSD along with my hard drive be a good idea? I was kind of reading on that."

Here's the TBG take on this for the Budget Gaming build:

"In regard to your question on SSDs, yes, they are a great upgrade. They
drastically speed up bootup and app launching, as well as game level
loading. The reasons that they are not included in the Budget Gaming build
guide are as follows:

(1) an SSD has no impact on gaming graphics performance
(2) even a small SSD adds significantly to the cost of a system, meaning
it won't fit in the $750 budget, and
(3) with the average new game taking up about 20GB of space, a small
(60-120GB) solid-state drive will only hold about two or three games, plus
the OS, before it's full. That just isn't a great investment for gamers,
because if the game isn't on the SSD, even level loading won't speed up,
and that's the only gaming benefit.

All that being said, I strongly recommend an SSD if you have the budget
for it and you understand the limitations for gaming purposes. For more
information on installing an SSD in an existing system, you can read the
SSD setup guide on The Tech Buyer's Guru:
http://www.techbuyersguru.com/SSDguide.php

The sweet spot right now is at the 240GB level, as these drives offer
twice the capacity and about 25% more speed than 120GB drives, yet cost
only $40 to $50 more. I particularly recommend the following two drives:

(1) The Crucial M500 240GB SSD ($120) -
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BQ8RM1A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00BQ8RM1A&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20
(2) The Samsung 840 Evo 250GB SSD ($140) -
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E3W1726/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00E3W1726&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20

I hope that answers your question!"

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2014, 07:55:29 AM »
Just heard back from our reader about his experience adding an SSD to his Budget Gaming PC. Here's what he had to say:

"Installed and cloned my HDD to my SSD.  It was really easy and my PC is ridiculously fast."

By the way, to learn more about adding an SSD to your system, see our SSD Setup Guide:  www.techbuyersguru.com/SSDguide.php

Also, keep in mind that when you add an SSD to an existing system, as our reader did, you may need to clone an existing OS drive. To do so, we strongly recommend you buy an SSD kit with the necessary cloning software and transfer cable. Here's the one our reader used: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E3W19CE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00E3W19CE&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 04:11:54 PM »
We just received a really interesting question from a reader about this build, and thought we'd share our response with others.

Here's the reader's question:

"I loved your article for the budget gamer setup and was wondering if
you had a recommendation for a different motherboard that has WiFi and
Bluetooth. The one in the guide does not appear to have it though the
Amazon add lists it."


--------------------------------------------------

And here's our response:

"I've actually tried to have Amazon correct that listing of the MSI H97 PC Mate, as you are right, it should not list 802.11 networking as a feature. Unfortunately, the feedback system isn't very robust and I couldn't find a way to have Amazon remove the incorrect specification.

If you want built-in WiFi and Bluetooth on a budget board, you're in a bit of a bind. The problem is that the only boards that include WiFi are Mini-ITX boards, which aren't ideal in a full-size gaming system due to limited expansion options, and the very high-end of the Z97 market, which starts at around $180.

I don't think the Z97 boards are worth it in a budget build, but if you go in understanding the limitations of an ITX board, you may find them very appealing. I think the best one for a budget gaming PC would be this Gigabyte B85 model.

To be clear, what you lose going with ITX is two of the four RAM slots, along with all but the main PCIe expansion slot (meaning you can still run a single video card).

If you need expansion options beyond what ITX can deliver, than your best bet is to buy an add-in card. Again, your options are limited here, as Bluetooth never became very popular on the desktop, but Gigabyte offers a reasonably-priced solution.

And if you only need WiFi, rather than WiFi plus Bluetooth, there are plenty of great options, including this line of add-in cards from TP-Link."

JJAP

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2015, 12:20:25 PM »
How about an i3 instead of an i5, for $75 cheaper? It seems to me that an i3 balances much more with the 280 on a "fps for the dollar" line of thinking than an i5. That is, if I were the kind of person willing to pay 60% more for 15% improvment, I should pair the i5 with a 290 or 970. With an i3, I can get more fps by putting the money saved into a 960 (2 or 4GB) instead of the older chipset radeon.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 12:26:06 PM by JJAP »

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2015, 04:27:12 PM »
How about an i3 instead of an i5, for $75 cheaper? It seems to me that an i3 balances much more with the 280 on a "fps for the dollar" line of thinking than an i5. That is, if I were the kind of person willing to pay 60% more for 15% improvment, I should pair the i5 with a 290 or 970. With an i3, I can get more fps by putting the money saved into a 960 (2 or 4GB) instead of the older chipset radeon.

That's a really interesting idea, JJAP.

Way back in mid-2013, I put together an article comparing the then-new Core i5-4670K and the older Core i5-760 in games, and included a special graph comparing a dual-core with a high-end GPU and a quad-core with a mid-range GPU. Have a look here, scrolling down to the bottom to see the dual vs. quad graph.

The two cards I tested, the GTX 670 and HD 7870, are about as far apart in performance as the R9 290 and R9 280 are today. Back then, it might have made sense to go with the dual-core to get a bump up in the video card department. But today, I don't think it's a good idea. Dual-cores are great values, but many games are now fully utilizing four threads. In some games, performance will simply be unacceptable at detail levels that an R9 290 can push. You're much better off investing in an Intel quad-core, which will be able to support any game for years to come, then to put the extra $80 into a video card, which will be outdated in a year or so. Note that I do not recommend the GTX 960 2GB at all, and only recommend the GTX 960 4GB in systems where low power use and noise are very important.

Now, if you're looking to spend less than $700, an Intel dual-core starts to make more sense. See the Home Office Build for a balanced system using a Core i3 that comes in at $650 with a video card.

One of the things PC builders need to keep in mind when picking components is that there's always a trade-off in any given budget. You can't increase both CPU and GPU power while sticking to the same price. And at the level of the $750 Build, it makes more sense to invest in the CPU, because no GPU upgrade fits into the budget without seriously compromising the CPU.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 04:32:15 PM by Ari Altman »

JJAP

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2015, 08:25:29 PM »
Interesting. It is essentially a future-proofing argument, no? In other words, not just performance/price, but performance/price*lifetime. I'm not a big fan of future proofing – I think it's way too much speculation, normally – but you make a good case. It all hinges on whether or not more games are going to be like Project Cars, Crysis 3, Homeworld, etc (10-15% frame rate increase @1080 ?) or if those games will continue to be the minority. It's hard to predict the future, and I know some decent ways to spend now the $50-80 a core i3 will save me.

I read your opinions about the 960 2GB. I didn't mean to bring it up. I should have said 280X/285. But since we're here :)... I hope you're able to do 960 2GB vs 4GB tests. HardOCP promised to do ones after noticing that GTA V is capable of filling up vram, but hasn't done so yet. I'd really like to know once and for all. Well, sort of. GTA V and it's maze of GPU demolishing settings is an outlier (because it's a glimpes of the future or absurd, only time will tell).

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2015, 10:48:50 AM »
Interesting. It is essentially a future-proofing argument, no? In other words, not just performance/price, but performance/price*lifetime. I'm not a big fan of future proofing I think it's way too much speculation, normally but you make a good case. It all hinges on whether or not more games are going to be like Project Cars, Crysis 3, Homeworld, etc (10-15% frame rate increase @1080 ?) or if those games will continue to be the minority. It's hard to predict the future, and I know some decent ways to spend now the $50-80 a core i3 will save me.

I read your opinions about the 960 2GB. I didn't mean to bring it up. I should have said 280X/285. But since we're here :)... I hope you're able to do 960 2GB vs 4GB tests. HardOCP promised to do ones after noticing that GTA V is capable of filling up vram, but hasn't done so yet. I'd really like to know once and for all. Well, sort of. GTA V and it's maze of GPU demolishing settings is an outlier (because it's a glimpes of the future or absurd, only time will tell).

There are definitely really good arguments in favor of a Core i3. I have several and think they're fantastic processors for the money.

But for gaming, you need to keep in mind one important distinction between CPU and GPU performance: in-game settings can almost always be reduced to allow for older GPUs (up to 3-4 years old) to play current games. The same cannot be said of CPUs. The basic physics and AI of games don't scale down that well, meaning that in some games, dual cores will just never perform that well. In other games, they're fantastic (I'm doing some testing in The Witcher 3 right now, and it needs very little CPU power, for example, despite being a cutting-edge game).

So that's why the Budget Gamer Build will always have a quad-core, even if it means a slightly lower-end GPU. It's just a better trade-off overall, even if it seems maxing out GPU potential is what you should do first when gaming on a budget.

JJAP

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2015, 02:20:09 PM »
Insightful point about not being able to turn down cpu-bound settings. Hmm.

hewlett

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2015, 09:00:23 AM »
Greetings  :)

I'm a novice when it comes to computers so i'm hoping to get some help on this build.

1. How would i use WIFI with it? I read somewhere that there are three options:

- USB
- Adapt something to your motherboard
- Get a motherboard with integrated Wifi

Is this information correct? If so, what would you recommend for this build/in general? What works best? and could i possibly get some links to recommended products?

2. Do you know how this fares in comparison to the Xbox and Playstation consoles?

I would assume that this should be able to play whatever the consoles can and will atleast on par?

My integral question being, for how long do you think i could play the more draining games at a decent level before i'd need to upgrade something? And what would those upgrades likely consist of?

My plan is to use the computer for light gaming, no streaming or arduous multi-tasking.

Also wondering what tools i should have ready for when building it.

Thanks for your help  :)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2015, 10:52:28 AM by hewlett »

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2015, 03:34:53 PM »
Greetings  :)

I'm a novice when it comes to computers so i'm hoping to get some help on this build.

1. How would i use WIFI with it? I read somewhere that there are three options:

- USB
- Adapt something to your motherboard
- Get a motherboard with integrated Wifi

Is this information correct? If so, what would you recommend for this build/in general? What works best? and could i possibly get some links to recommended products?

2. Do you know how this fares in comparison to the Xbox and Playstation consoles?

I would assume that this should be able to play whatever the consoles can and will atleast on par?

My integral question being, for how long do you think i could play the more draining games at a decent level before i'd need to upgrade something? And what would those upgrades likely consist of?

My plan is to use the computer for light gaming, no streaming or arduous multi-tasking.

Also wondering what tools i should have ready for when building it.

Thanks for your help  :)

Welcome to the TBG forum, hewlett!

So, yes, there are three options for WiFi:
(1) your motherboard can have it built-in (that's only available on high-end models, say over $150 or so)
(2) you can buy a PCIe-based expansion card to install inside your computer case, using one of your motherboard's PCIe expansion slots. They typically fit in any available PCIe slot (x1, x4, or x8, which you can differentiate based on length, x1 being the shortest).
(3) you can use a USB adapter. This is typically the cheapest and most convenient option because you plug it right in to an external USB slot, but these adapters aren't quite as strong in terms of reception, because they are small.

If you are building a system based on the $750 Budget Gaming PC buyer's guide, I would get a PCIe-based card like this TP-Link model. It's affordable and has the very important "dual-band" feature, which means it works on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz transmission bands. The 5GHz band is typically much faster, as long as the PC isn't too far from the router.

So as to the Xbox/Playstation question, this build is by far more powerful. Both the CPU and GPU are approximately twice as fast. Now, that being said, Xbox/PS4 games are optimized for those consoles, so they run pretty well, but this system will always have higher graphics options available. You will be able to play games on this system for 2-3 years before needing to upgrade the video card, likely with one around the same price ($150-$200). The Intel quad-core CPU will be good for many years, at least as long as the current consoles will be around.

And what tools do you need? Just one! A #2 Philips screwdriver! This model is even magnetic, perfect for a PC build where you need to reach into the case to bolt things down!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2015, 05:43:04 AM by Ari Altman »

hewlett

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2015, 09:01:32 PM »
Thank you for your great help, i really appreciate it.

One other question i forgot to mention, i believe i've heard something about having to be careful with static or something like that when in the process of building a PC, are there any details i should know about pertaining to safety measures and care?

Thanks for your help, i think you've got a great website and i'll be sure to continue visiting it :)

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG $750 Budget Gaming PC Build
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2015, 05:46:05 AM »
Thank you for your great help, i really appreciate it.

One other question i forgot to mention, i believe i've heard something about having to be careful with static or something like that when in the process of building a PC, are there any details i should know about pertaining to safety measures and care?

Thanks for your help, i think you've got a great website and i'll be sure to continue visiting it :)

The issue of static damage is one that was of concern decades ago, and people are still worried about it. But electronics are much more robust today, and static damage is entirely unheard of in modern computers. Just make sure you touch the metal case if you've been walking a lot on carpet and you'll be ok. There are products for sale that claim to reduce static, but honestly they're completely unnecessary.

Glad you like the site! If you decide to go ahead with a build, just post any questions you have here!